Richie posted a group photo of the judges on Instagram on Sunday. They stood in an ornate marble hall, as they are apparently back on the road filming. Both Richie and Bryan wore black t-shirts, while Perry was clad in a stunning silver and gold two-piece outfit. Richie was bejeweled with a hefty watch and bracelet, as well as a large necklace holding numerous rings, and all three judges wore wide smiles.
"Countdown," he wrote in the caption. "I'm back on the road with the children." He tagged Bryan, Perry and the official American Idol account, then added a joke in parentheses "Pray for me."
The judges started their cross-country journey off in Orlando, Florida and San Diego, California on Aug. 25, filming auditions for the early part of the American Idol season. According to a report by Billboard, they spent a couple of packed weeks on the road, finishing in Charleston, West Virginia on Sept. 15. Now, Richie says that they are back at work, looking at more candidates for the prestigious singing competition.
This is American Idol's second season as a revival. It ran for 15 seasons on its original network, Fox, before it was finally canceled in 2017. Along the way, it had spawned a number of popular spin-off competition series, including America's Got Talent, The Voice and The X Factor. Seeing an opportunity to capitalize on years of brand recognition, ABC picked the show back up last year, reviving it not long after it left the air.
Season 16 of American Idol was a steady performer in terms of ratings and engagement. The show did not quite regain the height of popularity it enjoyed in the early 2000s, but it general exceeded its ratings from its final seasons on Fox. The show's boost in viewers can be attributed at least in part to its new cast of judges. Richie, Perry and Bryan breathed new life into the franchise, helping to separate it from its previous incarnations.
By the looks of it, many fans are excited to see Richie back on TV this fall. The comments on his post filled with praise for their performance, and anticipation for their return.
"I am watching American Idol again," one fan declared. "You three are really good together. Those kids better be nice to you."
"I enjoyed tuning in last season and I have been following Cade and Gabby throughout the Idol Tour," added another. "All of the top seven did such a wonderful job with their performances and the way they conducted themselves during the tour. This group will be hard to top! You all have given the kids a top notch start to their new careers. Looking forward to this season. Best wishes to Lionel, Katy and Luke."
American Idol is expected to premiere on ABC sometime in the 2018-2019 fall TV season.